I recently read about quince paste (or membrillo as it is called in Spain where it is originally from) and was very curious to try some for myself. Turns out- while very time consuming, it is quite easy to make! The hardest part is tracking down quince- they are only available for a short window of time. So this past weekend when I had a few hours, and I was able to find some knobbly green quince at whole foods, I decided to give it a shot.
Most of the recipes I share on this blog are called “easy entertaining” because they are so quick and easy to make. But sometimes, it is also just as easy to have a pantry full of ingredients that you can plate and serve up at the drop of a hat. (frozen cookie dough in the freezer, an emergency container of hummus, an arsenal of crackers, etc) At the holidays, it is especially important to have a few of these back up snacks because you never know who is going to drop by or when you will be stopping by someone else’s (can’t show up empty handed!!) Quince paste is another great pantry item that you can make in bulk and is good in the fridge forever. Serve it up with a little manchego cheese, a few crackers, glass of wine and you have yourself quite the Spanish themed evening!
Quince Paste (Membrillo)
What you need:
- Lemon- peel and juice separated
- Whole Vanilla Bean
Start by peeling, coring and cutting the quince into 3 inch (ish) cubes. Put in your biggest pot on the stove and cover the fruit completely with water. Split the vanilla bean and add it with the lemon peel to the water. Bring to a boil and keep heat up until the quince is cooked completely through. You should be able to start cutting it easily with a fork. Drain all of the water and remove the vanilla and lemon.
Next, return quince to the pot over low heat and add the lemon juice. Begin pureeing with an immersion blender (my favorite kitchen gadget!!). It will become the most incredibly smooth texture. Now, judging by a rough guess, add an amount of sugar about equal in weight to the amount of puree you have. This is a LOT of sugar. Yes, you really do need that much- quince are not sweet at all. It is helpful to think about how many pounds quince you bought at the grocery store- I added about 2/3 of that in sugar.
Now is the fun part. For the next hour and a half you must continually stir your quince over low heat so it does not burn, and watch it magically transformed from a very loose yellowish liquid to a dark rosy thick paste. Its hard to say when it is “done”. For me, this was when I could barely stir anymore and the consistency was similar to the thickest brownie batter you can imagine- it started to pull away from the sides of the pan and I could almost ball it up- but it was still pourable and spreadable.
Line an airtight container with buttered parchment paper and pour in the quince paste to about a 1-2″ thickness. Use a spatula smooth the surface and let rest until cool. That is it! Cover and put in the fridge- it will keep forever but I cannot promise how long it will last